P2P Sites: Not For Practice

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P2P Sites: Not For Practice

I often see posts on social media where someone who is new to voice acting says that they’re using P2P (Pay-To-Play) sites to practice. Although I understand this line of thinking, that’s not the best way to practice… Here’s why:

The point of practicing is to improve your skills. For acting, a very important component is missing when practicing on your own: Feedback.

Constructive feedback helps to improve your acting ability. It can come in many forms. In an acting class, the teacher will provide feedback and guidance. Coaches perform a similar function, but in a more focused 1-on-1 manner. Performing on stage has many forms of feedback: the director, reactions from other actors in the scene, and the audience.

“So, Joe, what’s the harm in practicing on my own? It’s still practice, right?”

Although it may improve your reading skills and even the speed at which you can scan the copy, it may actually be a detriment to your skills as an actor. Instead of learning where your flaws and weaknesses are and addressing them to improve, you may be blind to the flaws you have. Continuing to practice without any feedback may reinforce your bad habits. Those can be even more difficult to un-learn in the future.

Let’s take the classic “You have a great voice! You should be doing voice acting!”. After hearing that, maybe you become enamored with the sound of your own voice. You join a P2P site “just for practice.” Reading one thing after another in a cool way, or an artificially deep voice, or a style that isn’t used in the industry. Spend enough time reinforcing the idea that this is the “right” way to read copy without any guidance can lead you down a path that will be difficult to correct in the future.

Other examples are speech impediments and thick accents. Learning about the issues that may impede your progress and correcting them early on will make your journey to become a voice actor that much easier.

In my opinion, the best way to a solid career as a Voice Actor is to learn acting first. And that requires training, direction, and real-world experience.

For now, due to the limitations of in-person opportunities, try to find some online ways to play. Improv Zoom groups. Classes. Audio drama (directed). There are even some VO reading groups that meet on a regular basis. These could provide a good start.

Once the pandemic is over and it is safe, get involved with a local theatre. Join a choir. Take some improv classes. Get training and direction and perform in front of live audiences. All of these will improve your acting skills and give you a solid foundation for voice acting.

Best of luck on your journey!
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Zuzubaland!

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Zuzubaland!


I’m a Hot Dog… And I finally got to play a Hot Dog too!
Zuzubaland! Hot Dog - Joe J Thomas

Zuzubaland (official site) began as a children’s book in Brazil.
The author, Mariana Caltabiano, then turned it into a cartoon series for Latin American TV, and it was dubbed into English at Bang Zoom! Studios.

The story revolves around a bee named “Zuzu” and her friends in a kingdom of food. Every episode is a fun little adventure (there’s even a witch and her hench-spider!).

Here’s a sample episode from YouTube named “Food House” (I’m the Announcer and Hot Dog):

Zuzubaland’s official YouTube page, and all the episodes so far are here:
Zuzubaland! (YouTube Page)

Zuzubaland! full cast - Joe J Thomas

The show and characters were a ton of fun to record. I hope you enjoy watching… and really hope they make more 😉

Cheers,
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Voice Acting: 15 Years of JoeActor!

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Voice Acting: 15 Years of JoeActor!

After 15 years of voice acting gigs, it’s time for a little celebration!

Here’s a collage of a few of my roles so far… Looking forward to many more:

(click on the image for FULL-SIZE!)

Joe J Thomas: Characters (JoeActor.com)

Joe J Thomas: Characters (JoeActor.com)

Top Row: Loken & Krik’Thir & Arcurion (World of Warcraft), Leoric The Skeleton King (Diabol III & Heroes of the Storm), Professor X (X-Men Live!)
Middle: Raven/Schwann (Tales of Vesperia), Tibarn (Fire Emblem), Stormtrooper (Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge), (me!), Ch’Gren (Star Trek Online)
Bottom: Nobunaga (Hunter X Hunter), Professor Oak (Pokémon), Lex Luthor (Mortal Kombat vs. DCU), Namor The Sub-Mariner (Marvel Ultimate Alliance) Yodeling Pickle (Archie McPhee)

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Nail Clippers from Tokyo

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Nail Clippers from Tokyo

While traveling in Tokyo, I learned a valuable business lesson from a little store in the hotel… all while buying nail clippers.

This was many years ago when my wife and I were vacationing in Tokyo. While I was thinking back on the trip, I realized that one memory stood out.

One evening in our hotel room, my wife tasked me with going downstairs to buy some nail clippers. Seems we hadn’t brought any in our bags (it was allowed back then).

So, there I was, with only the most basic of Japanese language skills… on my own! After making my way downstairs, I found the tiny little in-hotel store. They had all the essentials that a traveler would need: toothpaste, band-aids, aspirin, etc. I couldn’t seem to find the nail clippers.

I walked up to the counter. An older woman sat patiently behind it. We had a short conversation… without words. Finally! My years of pantomime were useful!

She pointed to where the nail clippers were, and I retrieved a nice pink one for my wife.

When I went up to pay, I expected that the woman would just run my card, give me a receipt, and I’d take the clippers and go.

That is not what happened.

After ringing up the bill and giving me the receipt, she carefully took the packaged clippers and wrapped them – very neatly – in a nice paper. She then put this into a small bag, along with some hand-folded paper origami cranes (my wife later told me they were for luck). Then, she folded over the top of the bag and put a small bit of tape on it.

When she handed it to me, I knew enough to bow slightly and say “domo arigatou gozaimasu” and left the store to go back to my room.

It was a short, simple interaction, yet when I think back, there was a lot of meaning to unpack from it.

Here are a few of the lessons I learned that can apply to many businesses:

  • Be kind
  • Know your job
  • Be Helpful
  • Exceed Expectations
  • Have Good Intentions

In the end, it’s these things that people, and your customers, will remember.

The nail clippers were common.

The woman who sold them to me was special.

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Time Traveler: Month One

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Time Traveler: Month One

One month ago, my wife and I moved from Los Angeles to Barcelona. I’ve noticed advantages and disadvantages due to the time difference.

The following is my general weekday schedule, and below that, my thoughts on how the move has affected me… Forward! 9 Hours Into THE FUTURE!!!

Los Angeles Barcelona Activity
10:00 PM 7:00 AM Rise and shine!
10:30 PM 7:30 AM Morning stretches and hygiene
11:30 PM 8:30 AM Light breakfast; Check emails for auditions
12:00 AM 9:00 AM Walk; Buy daily groceries, bread, snack
1:00 AM 10:00 AM Auditions; Work
2:00 AM 11:00 AM Mid-day snack; Pre-lunch walk
3:00 AM 12:00 AM Other Work Stuff; Creative Time
5:00 AM 2:00 PM Lunch
6:00 AM 3:00 PM More Creative / Work time
9:00 AM 6:00 PM Exercise; Shower + Shave
10:00 AM 7:00 PM Sessions; Auditions; Make it Rain!
12:00 PM 9:00 PM Dinner
1:00 PM 10:00 PM More work (if needed); TV Time
3:00 PM 12:00 AM Bedtime!

This schedule allows me to be available until 3 PM in Los Angeles and 6 PM in New York. For the majority of jobs, that works very well. There are exceptions, of course. I’ve already had one session with LA/Tokyo/Barcelona that presented some timing issues. But I can stand the occasional Midnight-2 AM gig 😉

Positives: Able to handle most jobs and auditions. More relaxed schedule. Greater Work/Life balance. More available for clients in Europe.

Negatives: May miss out on some RUSH!!! auditions. Not available for late day sessions, classes, or meetups.

Other thoughts: With the political climate in the US of A, I found my time being consumed with negative emotions, both my own and others, while living in LA. Since moving, the distance has allowed a greater sense of calm, and a broader perspective. Perhaps it’s because the consequences seem less. Or maybe it’s just not being under a constant barrage of news, posts, and tweets. Either way, I feel it’s better for my mental and physical health. It’s possible the same thing can be achieved without moving. Turn off the TV, social media, etc. But if that were the case, I wasn’t able to find a way to make it work while there.

Next stop… VOTING!

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Barcelona Booth

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Barcelona Booth

Last week, my wife and I relocated to Barcelona.
(how we did it is at the bottom of this post 😉 )

Since we may be here for a while, I needed a new studio setup.

Here’s some photos (click for full size), and the details on the equipment:
JoeActor Barcelona BoothJoeActor Barcelona Booth doorJoeActor Barcelona Booth insideJoeActor Barcelona Booth bling

The Booth: StudioBricks One Plus (VO Edition)

Comes with lighting, ventilation unit, extra sound dampening, bass trap, table, mic arm, and copy arm.
Overall… Stellar! Super quiet inside. Door handle turns up to seal the booth, down to open. Ventilation has several modes, the lowest of which is inaudible. Lighting and copy arm fit the bill nicely. Can always add more lighting easily.
One added perk: Since they’re made in Barcelona, the manufacturer came out and assembled it (for a very low fee)!
Another added perk: the acoustic foam on the walls has built-in channels for cable runs. So. Damn. Cool.
The only thing I’m not sold on is the Yellowtec mic arm. I’ve adjusted the spring, but it’s a bit hard to get it to stay where I want it to. I’d also prefer something a bit smaller. Might replace it in time…

The Mic: AKG C214

Excellent microphone. Very low self-noise. Picks up every nuance of my voice. Some reviews peg this as being “too bright”, but in my opinion it captures a true representation of my voice. Of course every voice is different, and you may not get the same feel from this mic. But for me, it’s a step up.

The Interface: Motu M2

Beautifully designed. Very low self-noise. Works like a dream. Really like the built-in meters. Also has an on/off switch on the back, and a monitor switch on each mic input for direct monitoring. Recommended!

The Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm

What everyone says about these… yeah, they’re right. Solid choice.

The Cloud: Google Drive (Google One)

A final piece of the puzzle: Inside the Booth vs. Outside.
Google One gives you 2Tb storage for $99/yr.
My fanless laptop inside the booth shares files with my computer at my desk. Everything is backed up in the cloud and available everywhere I need it. Easy.

… And How We Got Into Spain During A Pandemic Lockdown!

At the time of this post (for those in the future), the Covid-19 pandemic is raging. Due to the horrible handling of… well… everything in the US-of-A, most of the world doesn’t want US citizens traveling to their countries. The exception is if you are a national of that country, or happen to have a visa.

My wife and I have what is known as a “Golden Visa” for Spain (mostly thanks to her). It allows us to live and work in Spain and the EU. Getting one is no easy feat, however.

So…

Step 1) Build a time machine.
Step 2) Go back to 2016. Be horrified by the results of the election.
Step 3) Jump through all the hoops needed for a “Golden Visa” (buy property, get health insurance, background checks, bank account, paperwork, visa, residence card, travel to Spain every time something is needed)
Step 4) It’s now 2-3 years later (yeah, lots of hoops)
Step 5) Due to the pandemic, jump through lots more hoops (call the embassy, consulate, lawyers, travel agents, airlines, etc.)
Step 6) Get an impossible Covid-19 test (nasal swab, must have results within 72 hours before flight)
Step 7) Discover Step 6 wasn’t needed (what?!?!?!?)
Step 8) Get baggage opened and everything touched by security to make you feel insecure.
Step 9) Congratulations! You’ve arrived in Spain!

Easy, right?

The take-away: It’s better here. I’m glad I followed my wife’s instincts.

See you in the (remote-er) booth!
Joe J Thomas
www.JoeActor.com

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WordPress: One Week to a New Website

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WordPress: One Week to a New Website

My old website had been neglected for a while. I needed a new, fresh look. And I needed the content to be easier to update. Maybe even have it automatically update!
JoeActor.com New and Old
One week ago I installed WordPress onto a sub-domain of my JoeActor site. This allowed me to work on the new site without disturbing the old one. Installation of WordPress was a breeze.

If you’re thinking “But, Joe, WordPress is only for blogging!” Well, yes and no. It has two types of content: Posts (used for blog entries) and Pages (static web pages). When you build a site using only Pages, it’s just another website. The advantages are it’s easier to maintain and updates automatically. Plus if you’d like to add a blog later on, it’s already built in.

Choosing a theme for my new site was next. For those of you new to WordPress, the theme is the look and feel of the site. Fonts, menus, etc. I selected the “OceanWP” theme. Very flexible, clean look, and adaptable to all devices (computers, tablets and phones).

The old site was a bit too complicated and required frequent content updates to stay relevant. To get around that, I decided to eliminate the “News” page. I also changed my “Resume” page to automatically display my IMDb information instead (there’s a plug-in for that!). This means that my new site will always be up-to-date on the resume and news, and it’s less complicated for visitors.

My final and most difficult task was to rewrite the home page. This is the first thing that visitors will see, so it’s very important. I worked with my wife and some friends for the “About” text. I also included my contact information and main demos. One new element is a rotating slide-show at the bottom. This shows companies I’ve worked with, projects, and major roles. New slides can be easily added as I land more work.

So, that’s it! The new site is up and can be viewed at JoeActor.com – take a peek and feel free to comment if you’d like.

And if you’re considering WordPress for your site, let me know in the comments as well. I’ll try to answer any questions here.

Cheers,
Joe J Thomas
JoeActor.com

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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IMDb Study: Nearly 70% of Actors Have Careers That Last Only One Year

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IMDb Study: Nearly 70% of Actors Have Careers That Last Only One Year

IMDb Stats
A recent study in the journal “Nature Communications” provides some eye-opening statistics into the careers of actors and actresses in the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com).

Data was collected from IMDb on the careers of 1,512,472 actors and 896,029 actresses as recorded as of January 16th, 2016, including careers stretching back to the first recorded movie in 1888.

Their model predicts with up to 85% accuracy whether an actor or actress is likely to have a brighter future, or if the best days are, unfortunately, behind them.

Some of the key findings:

  • 69% of Actors and 68% Actresses have careers that only last one year.
  • The unemployment rate for Actors/Actresses hovers around 90%
  • Acting careers run in hot and cold streaks.
  • Cold streaks tend to fade more quickly for Actors than for Actresses.

For a more detailed look at this study, please follow the links below…

Relevant Links:

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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VO Business Posts! (New Menu)

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VO Business Posts! (New Menu)

All of the Business, Voice Acting, Studio, and Voice-Over advice onJoe’s Dump, in one place! See the top menu on the site for the new “VO Business” option!

Find out:

  • How to get into Voice Over
  • What equipment I use in the studio
  • Tricks in the Voice Acting world
  • Advice on running your VO Business
  • Funny Voice Acting stories
  • … And Much, Much More!!!

Over 80 posts to help you find your path in the amazing world of Voice Acting!!!

So, what are you waiting for? Just click the link below, or get there any time from the “VO Business” option on the top menu!

Joe’s Dump: VO Business Posts! (clicky clicky…)

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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VO and Tablets

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VO and Tablets

Many voice actors take a tablet into the booth to read and markup their copy.

But what if you could run your entire studio on a tablet?

Samsung S5E Tablet and Monitor: Joe's Dump

What you see in the above picture may be the future for home studios. At the bottom is a 10″ Android tablet. It’s connected to the top screen, a mouse, keyboard, external drive, microphones interface, mic and speakers.

It could run everything you need for a home recording studio. And it costs around $400.

In this test, I was running a Chrome browser with two tabs, a Google spreadsheet, a Microsoft Word document, and Lexis audio recording/editing software. Recording quality was the same as on my laptop.

So, what exactly makes this possible?

The tablet is a Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e – here are the specs:
OS: Android 9.0.
Display: 10.5in WQXGA Super AMOLED, 287ppi.
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 Octa-core processor (2×2.0 GHz & 6×1.7 GHz)
Memory: 4/6GB.
Storage: 64/128GB + microSD up to 512GB.
Cameras: 13Mp rear, 8Mp front.
Ports: USB3.1 (Type C)
Plus! Very thin and light: just 5.5 mm thick, and weighs only 399 g (0.88 lb)

The USB-C port is an OTG (On-The-Go) type. This means it allows USB devices, such as USB flash drives, digital cameras, mice or keyboards, to be attached. Also microphones and speakers and screens. No drivers to install, or software to update. All I did was plug in a USB-C hub and everything worked.

The processor has 8 cores, and is pretty fast. The new version of this tablet (the S5) is expected to be even faster.

Battery life is 14+ hours, but you can also have it plugged in while you’re using it.

The final piece of the puzzle is the windows like interface on the big screen. That comes from Samsung. It’s called “Dex”, and is one of 4 modes on this tablet:

  1. Normal Tablet Mode (one app takes up the whole screen)
  2. Split-screen Mode (two apps share the screen equally)
  3. Pop-up Mode (one app appears in a pop-up window; any second app appears behind it, full screen)
  4. Dex Mode (full window and icon interface)

When you put all of this together, you can easily see the potential… and where we all may be headed.

I used the setup exclusively over the weekend, just to see how easy it was. It’s definitely good enough for auditions, or for the central component of a travel rig. To run a full home studio, I’d probably want better recording/editing software available. It may already be out there…

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

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